Adult Services Coordinator
Erlanger Branch, Kenton County Public Library, KY
MSLS, University of Kentucky, Lexington, 1998
Submitted a piece on her project for American Libraries entitled, “O Sister, Where Art Thou? Just Down the Road!”
Sister Libraries Project
Photo by Shay Derickson
April Ritchie certainly didn’t invent the concept of sister libraries. Across the United States, libraries have formed partnerships and connections with counterparts in Russia, China, Spain, and a host of other nations. But Ritchie, adult services coordinator for the Kenton County Public Library’s bustling Erlanger Branch, found a good idea by narrowing the focus of sister libraries to keep them as close to home as possible.
Why couldn’t Kenton County become a sister library with one in a neighboring county, Ritchie wondered? And why couldn’t other Kentucky libraries do the same? After all, libraries have resources, training, and specialties that are ideal for sharing with growing systems looking to do better.
“This is new, and we’re sort of making it up as we go along,” Ritchie says. Nevertheless, Kentucky now has six sets of sister-library partnerships, with at least three more in the works. All because Ritchie was able to sift through a nationwide concept and determine how it could help library patrons in her own backyard.
Ritchie’s project emanated from a successful test case. In March 2010, the Erlanger Branch adopted Carter County Library as a “sister.” Weeded books were donated to bolster the Carter County collection, as was gently used furniture. Later, staff members from both libraries switched places for a few days, in an exercise in familiarity.
Buoyed by the success, Ritchie hoped to make the project statewide. The Kentucky Public Library Association took it on, with Ritchie serving as coordinator. It makes sense; after all, by now she has literally written the sister-library manual.